Smiling Irish Advice for a Visit to the Emerald Isle

“If you ever go across the sea to Ireland…” is the opening line of the song Galway Bay a traditional tune romanticizing the Emerald Isle. I’ve asked people who’ve trodden on the sod to complete that lyric with travel advice to celebrate St. Patrick.


Irish Ulster Fry Up

The “Full Irish” or Ulster Fry Up to begin the day. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)


Lansing attorney and musician Jack Cahill likes to spend weeks at a time in Ireland. He echoes the advice in Tourism Ireland’s slogan “go where Ireland takes you.” “Racing to check off every tourist site will mean you miss the real Ireland,” said Cahill. “My philosophy is if you’re having a good time, stay there.”

Neil Mullally, founder of the Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame, said travelers can expect to feel welcome, warm and totally at ease in Ireland. “Ireland is actually smaller than Michigan’s Lower Peninsula so it’s possible to see a lot in a few days. But rather than run from one tourist spot to the next, be flexible and don’t rush yourself. Let Ireland wash over you and savor it.”

Mullally also recommends staying in small, family run, licensed B&Bs. “There is nothing like starting the day with an Irish breakfast and the proprietors are an invaluable source of travel information.”

Lansing’s Angie Miller, a radio reporter and blogger about to graduate from EMU, first visited Ireland back in third grade. “Waterville was my favorite place as well as kissing the Blarney Stone, which gave me the gift of gab. Irish music, whether a jig or a reel is lively and uplifting to me and satisfies my soul,” said Miller, who became a competitive Irish dancer with the Heinzman families’ Ardan Academy of Irish Dance.

Belfast-born Richard McMullin has been performing Irish music in Michigan for decades as leader of the popular Blackthorn band. Irish crooners often sing songs about locations such as the green glens of Antrim, Carrickfergus, and even the Carrick-a-Rede bridge near Giants Causeway and the Bushmills Distillery – all places that whet McMullin’s appetite. “Try potato farls, an Ulster fry, scones with jam and fresh cream, currant squares, and barmbrack,” he said. Any of the above can be washed down with a pint of Guinness, of course.

State Legislator-turned political publisher Bill Ballenger, who once served as Michigan’s Racing Commissioner, suggests The Curragh. It’s a horse racing track west of Dublin in County Kildare that J.P. McCarthy would have loved,” said Ballenger of the late Detroit radio legend whose broadcast party kicked off St. Patrick’s Day each year. “I also like Clonmacnoise, the Ring of Kerry, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the Burren, and Ashford Castle in Cong where the film The Quiet Man was filmed.

“They have the carriage from the movie there,” said Oakland County Commissioner Chuck Moss, also a former State Legislator, who recommends the Cliffs or Moher, Connemara, and Sligo in addition to Dublin.

Sandy Andrews, of Trenton has been to Dublin and the Temple Bar Pub is not to be missed. “I went to a Jimmy Buffett concert at the Olympia Theater and I hope to do that again,” she said.

“Just outside Dublin is the village of Glendalough, an early Medieval monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin, said Barry McGuire, an experienced traveler who works at the Okemos Post Office. “The James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove is also a place I recommend.”

Creta Panzeri and Chris Follenus, both working in tourism, like the outskirts of Dublin too. “The small villages north of Dublin such as Malahide and Portmarnock which are right on the sea,” noted Panzeri, who also perused Trinity College’s Library in the city and described it as a “stunning masterpiece.” Amazing views await tourists who hop on the Dart commuter rail to South County Dublin to Killiney and Dalkey. “It’s a great, low-cost day out with some stunning walks, restaurants and pubs,” he said.

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